NEW DELHI, OCT 31: Maharashtra tops in implementing agricultural reforms and offers the best environment for doing agri business, according to an assessment carried out by NITI Aayog.

Maharashtra scored 81.7 on the index partly due to its decision to exclude fruits and vegetables from the APMC Act.

Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are in the next three positions in the ‘Agricultural Marketing and Farm-Friendly Reforms Index’ launched by the Aayog on Monday. The Centre is trying to encourage States to carry out reforms in the three broad areas of agricultural market, land lease and reforms related to forestry on private land-felling and transit of trees.

“It is very clear that if we want our agriculture sector to experience robust growth and farmers to double their income over the next few years, reforms are a must,” said Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog.

However, almost two-thirds of the States could not even reach the halfway mark in the index. Major States such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Jammu & Kashmir are in this group. Delhi, with a poor score of 7.3, is second last in the list, just above Puducherry.

Criteria for ranking

The index is based on implementation of seven provisions under the model Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act, joining the online marketing platform eNAM, special treatment to fruits and vegetables for marketing and levels of taxes in mandis.

“We are in consultations with States that have not performed well to find out what are the constraints that they face and why are they reluctant in carrying out reforms,” Chand said.

The index is aimed at helping the States identify and address problems in the farm sector, which suffer from low growth, low farm income and agrarian distress.

“These indicators reveal ease of doing agribusiness as well as opportunities for farmers to benefit from modern trade and commerce and have wider option for sale,” Chand added.

NITI Aayog has asked States to bring about changes in its APMC Act based on a model legislation to make it more flexible and allow a national agriculture market to emerge that would give farmers the freedom to sell there produce wherever they want.

While the Centre is talking about bringing in reforms in the APMC Act, there are some States that are yet to adopt the Act or have revoked it. These include Bihar, Kerala, Manipur, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Andaman & Nicobar. They are not included in the ranking.